Written for the Camelot Love Spring Fling on LiveJournal based on the prompt "Arthur's thoughts on Gwen's lavender dress.". I just had to do this prompt in honour of my The Lavender Dress Appreciation Picspam. Good ol' purple wonderbra dress that doubtless will, within time, bring Arthur many hours of joy. I'm not entirely happy with this fic (Since you can do so much with the lavender dress) but I wanted to do this one first because it is the easiest of my prompt selections. You can can find both these things via the links to Human Trash and Forgotten Sophie on my profile page.


1.

The lavender dress first appeared on a cool spring day.

The sun was rearing its head earlier than everyone was accustomed to. At least that was the case for Arthur. He was not yet used to the sun rising early so he was up and about at seven in the morning. He knew it would be a while before Merlin woke up. He would probably finally roll in to work at nine.

So Arthur killed the time by putting in some extra training on the back field. On his way there he was walking through the cloisters when he just happened to glance across the square.

That was when he saw it.

Guinevere was walking across the courtyard on her way to work. Even before he noticed her clothes he felt a tiny tug in his chest. His instinct told him to immediately look away but he couldn't. He saw immediately something was different. She was still wearing her red cape but the dress beneath it... wasn't the red or the yellow dress. She had a new dress.

Arthur slowed his pace a bit to try and see the dress better.

Fortunately she was stopped by a fellow maid that had also noticed the dress. She excitedly clapped her hands and forced Gwen to twirl around for her. The skirt was a light purple colour, specifically lavender. Arthur immediately thought of the colour of the flowers she was forever picking and placing over the castle. Or the flowers she tied into her hair.

The prince kept staring.

His eyes were so focused on Gwen that he didn't look where he was going. A few more steps and—SLAM, he walked into one of the pillars lining the walkway.

Arthur recoiled, not quite realising what he had done. He held the throbbing side of his head quickly and felt embarrassment light up his cheeks. It wasn't just the fact that he walked into a pillar that nerved him the most; it was the thought that Gwen might have seen.

She and her dress had been the ones distracting him.

Thankfully Arthur's blunder seemed to escape her notice. She didn't even see he was watching her and quickly parted ways with her friend to get to work. There were very few people around so Arthur was able to sneak off without anyone noticing him.

He quickly darted into an unoccupied room to check his face in a mirror. There was a noticeable bruise, big enough for Merlin to notice it. Arthur sighed and decided that he would pretend that he didn't even remember getting.

So he made his way onto the back field. It was just was all alone as everyone else was still asleep or just waking up. For an hour he swung his sword, swapped it between both hands and wondered what he could do to make training more challenging.

When the sun was up and bright Arthur decided it was time to go in and find Merlin. At the very least he prepared himself to mock the foolish boy when he returned to his room and found there, probably scratching his head and wondering where his master was.

When he finally got there he walked in on Merlin putting down the breakfast tray.

"Good morning, my lord" he said politely (as polite as you could get when you were Merlin). "You're up early. I hope the bed wasn't on fire... because if it was, it wasn't my fault."

Arthur threw down his sword. "Not your best joke, Merlin. Clearly this is early too early in the morning for you too."

He sat down at the table as Merlin pushed the plate under his face. The servant's hand stilled a moment. Arthur looked up to see Merlin staring at him.

"What is it?"

"You've got a—"

Merlin reached over to point at the bash on the side of Arthur's face. Startled, Arthur tried to jerk his face away only to accidently move it forward and cause Merlin to poke the bruise. He winced as the finger banged against the freshly tendered skin.

"Merlin!" he grunted angrily.

"Sorry!"

"It's just a bruise," the prince quickly said. "I don't even remember getting it."

"But it's fresh. You must remember something—"

"Merlin, shut up!"

The servant obeyed. It was obvious his master had acquired the bruise through means he did not wish to discuss, and Merlin couldn't even begin to guess at.

Yet as Arthur rubbed the side of his face that was tender he was not filled with annoyance at his stupidity but with regret that he hadn't got a better look at that dress. It seemed so much better fitted to her figure. He vowed then to get a better look at it next time...


2.

"So, you've got a new dress?"

Gwen turned around, surprised to see the prince standing there. She had barely found the courage to look him in the eyes since the 'man I am inside' incident. The way she had hurried from his room that night made her blush even now. After that each time she ran into Arthur he would give her that smile, nod his head and greet her. "Guin-e-vere" he would say in that tone. All Gwen could do was smile politely back and hope he wouldn't ask her about what she had said that night.

That had been the run of events for four months now.

This time was different. Arthur looked very gawky and self-conscious. He rubbed the back of his hands anxiously. It was like he wasn't comfortable in his own skin. Gwen was guilty of that look herself; she herself did it from time to time.

He leaned up against the doorframe. The young maidservant turned around fully to look at him and smiled with a small nod. Arthur seemed to lose his balance against the stone and decided it was best to stand up straight.

"Yes, my lord" she finally replied. "I've been working on it for the last year now. The embroidery took a long time."

Arthur folded his arms, not knowing what else to do with them. "Yes, the embroidery is very... detailed. I-I noticed that when I saw you... in it."

'Stop looking at the strings of her bodice!' his inner voice ordered him.

Arthur quickly looked up.

"It's very, very nice..." he muttered.

Gwen nodded. "Thank you, my lord."

He was worried that Gwen had noticed where his eyes were looking. Thankfully she didn't seem to have done so. After all why would a prince of Arthur's calibre take any interest in her? She wasn't a fool. She knew that Arthur's teasing her was just a harmless game on his part and that there was nothing in it.

"I also notice what the—embroidery is on," he suddenly garbled.

'Oh yes. That doesn't make you sound like a pervert at all!' his inner voice scolded.

Gwen's eyes widened. She looked down at her bodice and ran her hands down the sides. As she did so Arthur struggled to keep his face straight. He tilted his head to admire the thing she was displaying to him, obviously not noticing how distracting her own hands on her waist were to him.

'Please don't do that!' he thought helplessly.

He swallowed thickly as her hands smoothed over the decorated fabric. The new corset provided perfect support for her matured figure. It seemed it was only over the last year that Guinevere had burst into womanhood. It had never occurred to Arthur until he started developing a little crush on her that there was a figure lying underneath her ugly baggy dresses from the past.

Arthur had known Guinevere all her life. She had more or less been wearing that awful yellow dress since she was thirteen. It had been a lot baggier and ridiculous back then. She had made them with the sensible thought that she would grow into them. Clearly she had overestimated how big she was actually going to grow.

Now puberty was over, her dressmaking skills had improved and she was able to make one more tailored to her figure and shape. The measurements were nearly perfect, much to Arthur's secret torment.

Gwen looked up.

"I'm sorry if you find it inappropriate, sire" she said.

Arthur snapped out of his trance and looked up again. His cheeks reddened. "Sorry... w-why would I find it inappropriate?"

It was distracting, definitely. At least to Arthur it was. To a normal human being that wasn't nursing a crush on this girl that said nice things it was a perfectly well-made dress. There was nothing inappropriate about it. It wasn't particularly revealing. It just displayed curves that Arthur didn't know Guinevere had.

"Well," Gwen said awkwardly, looking to one side, "you did say that you wanted to speak to me, sire."

Arthur blinked. "Did I?"

"Yes," she replied, now confused. "You asked if you could speak to me and then you asked me about my dress..."

He blinked again, and looked away.

"Did I?"

"Yes, my lord."

Gwen didn't know what to think. Arthur was acting very strangely and she couldn't understand why. He had been acting strange for a few days now, looking at her whenever they past in the corridor and not doing that teasing 'Guinevere' she had become so accustomed to. She almost missed it. Also, Arthur didn't seem as brash or confident as he usually was. He seemed to be constantly in deep thought.

She couldn't think what about, though.

Arthur thought for a moment. Frankly he felt as if he had woken up that morning, standing in that room and looking at Guinevere's dress. Then he remembered why he had been there.

"Oh yes!" he said in relief, worried he would be stuck standing there like a drooling moron without an explanation to give Gwen. "Yes, yes I remember now!"

Gwen smiled nervously. "Yes, my lord?"

Arthur seemed to regain some normality as he pointed at her and dished out the order. "I need you," he said in a slow voice. It sounded a bit patronising to Gwen (which annoyed her) but he was actually saying it that way so he wouldn't forget or get distracted again. "To go and find out whether Merlin is coming into work. If he isn't, then I'll have to find someone to fulfil his duties."

Gwen now gave a forced smile, "Of course, my lord."

She nodded her head politely and shifted past him through the door. Arthur swallowed again, feeling her arm brush up against him. He walked as she walked off in the direction of Gaius's chambers.

Then he suddenly called out for her again. "Guinevere!"

She turned around quickly and walked up to him. "Yes, my lord?"

Arthur looked down at her. "I... think your dress is very nice."

She looked down at it again and smiled. She made no reply; she just nodded her head respectfully and went on her way again.


3.

Living with Gwen's lavender dress for four days was damn near torture.

There were times when Arthur didn't know where to look, especially when she was sweeping the floor. She seemed to do that a lot. He sat there at the table watching her roam the broom across the floor. He tried not to watch her but the movement of her dress as she moved across the floor.

A long tendril of hair hanging loose down her neck and she kept her head down. Arthur tried to focus on that as it hung in mid-air. But when Gwen stood up straight it rested gently against collarbone, just above her neckline. That was where Arthur's eyes automatically rested.

Arthur blushed and looked away; Gwen turned, just catching him looking down at the simple clay cup of water. She thought nothing of it and turned around to rest the broom across the wall.

He looked up again.

She stood at the side near where the pantry was and began breaking up oats to make him something to eat. He was curious about the fact she never seemed to eat much. Gwen clearly didn't feel comfortable sitting down and eating with him. It made him feel uncommonly sad.

That she wouldn't talk to him either; that made him feel sad too.

"Um" he suddenly said.

Gwen immediately turned around and looked at him. Her face was neutral and clearly preparing to obey an order.

Arthur looked awkwardly back at her for a moment, once again letting her dress distract him. The neckline had fallen lower again. There were times when Gwen was sweeping and bent over slightly that Arthur could see right down her front. It always made him shift awkwardly as guiltily he allowed dirty thoughts enter his mind.

It was made all the harder for being with her most of the day.

The main fantasy that kept cropping into his mind involved being press up against a wall by the loveliness that was Guinevere in her purple dress. It had been a recurring daydream ever since that evening she tackled him to the ground (and saved his life). He had been wearing armour; he could barely feel her up against him that time. He wanted to know what it would feel like...

He felt ashamed by these musings at times.

"I was just wondering..." Arthur went on after a painfully long pause. "I was wondering... whether... how 'Sir William' was doing over at the palace. Is he keeping up the act?"

Gwen's expression melted immediately into a cheerful smile. A warm glow rose up through Arthur's chest. He felt oddly pleased at having been able to get his question out and not have Guinevere look at him as if he were a lunatic as she had done weeks ago with the flying gargoyles. What had he been thinking when he said 'You always surprise me'? On reflection Arthur could think of so many better things he could have said...

"He's... coping," Gwen explained to him. "Merlin and I spent most of the knight trying to keep him away from the other knights. At one point he got loose and ended up talking to Sir Leon's wife. Fortunately she didn't asking him anything about his background."

Arthur couldn't help but feel a burst of pride strike him at that moment. It had been because of Sir Leon and his half-hearted jousting that Arthur was now there in Gwen's house pretending to be 'Sir William'. The prince was certain that he could beat Sir Leon. He would prove to himself that he could beat him. Prove to everyone that he could! Maybe then Lady du Cap-Rogue wouldn't be so interested in Sir William... not after that nobody had knocked her husband off his horse...

He looked up again to see Gwen had once again turned back to preparing dinner. Arthur wanted to keep the conversation going but he didn't know where to take it.

He tilted his head to admire the flowers in her hair before leaning back to see what she was actually going. She turned around again. He quickly resumed his former position.

"Nervous about tomorrow?" she asked suddenly.

"Oh," Arthur chuckled proudly, "I don't get nervous."

Gwen didn't take her damned dress off for the whole four days, either.

Arthur could understand. She was probably worried that he would walk in and catch her naked. Despite his overactive mind (Not to mention his curiosity about her form) Arthur blushed at the thought of walking in on Gwen in such a compromising position. Despite his desire to see whether she was the same in real life as she was in his fantasies, Arthur knew she would never want to look him in the eye again.

Lavender dress was better than no dress at all, he supposed.

But four days straight of Gwen in that fitted bodice and flowing purple skirt just alerted him more to her pretty curves. He wanted to look at her, and the more he looked the more he wanted to touch her. Then, when they sat down and had a proper conversation Arthur had an overwhelming desire to kiss her. It wasn't just attraction to the purple dress that made him want to kiss her: it was because he felt so happy just being around her.

With all that going on in his head it was inevitable that he would give in and kiss her. Even when she was angry, telling him off for being the spoilt prince that he knew he was (and hated being), he wanted to kiss her.

He didn't mean to be awkward, not really. It was a defence mechanism. Every time he saw disappointment in Gwen's eyes, he felt awful. Yet when she looked at him with proud eyes, he instinctively started to act like a prat. He thought it might be him trying to deny his feelings for her.

The longer he spent with her (and he spent a good portion of the day with her while living with her) the more he wanted her to like and think well of him. She made him want to be a better person even though he knew he wasn't a bad person to begin with; he just awkward.

Arthur had never cared that much about a single person's opinion of him before that. Now all he ever thought of was Guinevere. He thought of the token she had nervously given to him. Guinevere. He thought of the way she had coyly looked up at him. Guinevere. He thought of how he had kissed her, and she had kissed him back.

He could barely believe he had actually done it!

And then as he had rushed away, not knowing what to make of what he had done or how she had pleasantly responded. He tried not to think about it then but that simple kiss had lighted something deep within him. It had fanned a flame he had been carrying since he couldn't remember. His heart ached in his chest as he walked through the crowds to meet Merlin, and it ached for just one person: Guinevere.

Then when he was injured by the assassin, she had rushed to help him and begged him not to joust again. He saw the concern in her eyes and heard the fear in her voice, and his heart began to sing just one tune. Guinevere. It continued to sing even after he won the joust and sent 'Sir' William to meet the excited crowds. It sung on the way back to Gwen's house for his final day as a peasant.

Not once did he stop smiling and not once did his heart stop singing 'Guinevere'. Thoughtful, honest, caring, moral, bright, shining, kind and beautiful Guinevere wrapped up in that lavender dress.

But then the deception was over. He returned to court and to being Prince Arthur. It didn't dawn in him straight away, but it did on Gwen. He could tell by the look in her eyes when he looked at her and smiled. He remembered who he was and who she was. He was the Prince of Camelot and she was a servant. His father was the king and she was the orphaned daughter of a blacksmith.

They could keep pretending to themselves... but they both knew there was little hope. And it hurt them both to admit it. The worst pain was actually saying it. "You don't have to explain." Arthur felt so disappointed in himself he didn't even notice Gwen was still wearing her lavender dress.

Then as he was forced to walk away from her his heart sung its last song. After that – and for a long time after that – the only sound his heart made was an anguished cry that never stopped.


4.

Kissing her the second time had been like a dream. It had been better than a dream. Arthur thought it had been like waking up from a strange dream that he barely remembered and finding that real life was so much better than any fantasy or dream.

Then the pain had suddenly hit him. Not the anguish from before that he had forced himself to bury deep inside him and live with, but actual pain. It was the pain from a mace stinging his side, a headache from being whacked over the head several times, and cramps in his legs and lower back from being knocked over more times that he could have counted if he had remembered any of it. But he didn't.

"W-what am I doing?"

"You're in a fight, to the death. You're losing."

He was fully awake. He couldn't work out how he went from falling asleep to standing in a tent, in pain and being propped up by Gwen after having been passionately kissed by her. It was a mix of both the fantasy world and a bizarre nightmare world rolled into one. And he couldn't remember a thing.

"But—"

Gwen's hand stroked his cheek tenderly.

"There's no time to explain," she whispered. "Just... live for me, Arthur. That's all I ask right now."

Then Merlin came in to help Gwen prepare him for the final confrontation with Olaf.

Arthur knew what he had to do and he knew why he had to do it. Whatever the nightmare up until then made him do he now had to put things right, even if it meant fighting to the death. It was all very romantic to die for love, but Arthur wanted to live for it. Gwen wanted him to live for it, for her. After all what was the point of loving someone at all if you just threw away your chance to be with them?

He had nearly made that mistake (However unintentionally) but now he knew there was something to fight and live for.

Between them Gwen and Merlin helped Arthur on with his armour, trying to make it as less painful as possible. Neither of them told him what the fight was about although Arthur made a pretty good guess. It turned his stomach and he didn't ask them whether he was right.

So instead he kept his eyes forced on Gwen as she fastened gauntlet.

He thought of the kiss she had given him, thinking he had best muse on it now than later when he was in the ring and facing an armed and dangerous king.

He closed his eyes to try and cope with the pains in his joints. The weight of the armour seemed more unbearable than usual. He had never been so foolish as to let himself be as injured as this. He dreaded to think about how he must have been behaving.

Once again he tried to push the unpleasantness out of his mind.

Arthur relived his feelings just before he became aware of the pain. He thought of Gwen's lips pressed hard against his mouth as he realised what was happening and took her in ardently. He had tilted her closer to him, buried his hand in her dark locks and cradled her head in his hold. Her trailing sleeve had brushed his neck as she looped her arm around his neck. He remembered the feeling of her bodice as he wrapped his arm around her, the feeling of the stitching that had taken her so long to perfect.

Everything was Guinevere, and for first time in a while his heart felt content even if it was short lived.


5.

There were many things that Arthur loved about the lavender dress. Any man would praise a certain outfit that highlighted the beauty of their beloved and filled them automatically with passion and desire.

He preferred it to her slightly 'smarter' turquoise dress; the bodice of that dress was quite thick and stiff making it difficult to feel her under his embrace. He likened it to her hugging him in his armour. Gwen said it wasn't that drastic, but Arthur said it was equally frustrating; he knew she liked to feel him against her too. In the lavender Guinevere's bodice was soft and flexible to her shape, allowing him to feel every inch of her. He liked to run his hands down the side of her waist, just as much as she liked to run her hands across his arms and shoulders.

"It's not the bodice you like," Gwen accused playfully as she walked slowly towards him. "You just like the way it highlights my..."

She flatted her palms against where the bodice supported her breasts and looked at him.

Arthur laughed and folded his arms across his chest. "Is that such a crime? There are very few women with ones as pretty as yours."

Now she laughed.

"You think they're pretty?"

"Of course I do!" He sighed and sat up on the bed, watching her. She stopped in her tracks to look at him. He smiled slyly at her, "I've thought so ever since you first... displayed them."

Gwen's eyebrows rose. "Displayed them?"

"Yes," he nodded with a chuckle. "I mean, ever since they made their first... corseted debut."

She rolled her eyes and smirked. The hands that were laid flat against her chest slowly moved to undo the ties of her bodice.

Despite the effect the dress had on Arthur he still noticed the amount of work Gwen had put into making it.

She slipped her arms out of it and threw to Arthur, where he was sitting in the middle of his bed. He caught it, still warm. He ran his fingers across the detailed stitch work of the bodice. He especially liked the phoenixes (or maybe they were dragons) at the front. "Rising from the ashes" he commented. He briefly found himself thinking of the dragon's attack and their run through the flames of Camelot burning.

That was in the past now, just.

He looked up. He even liked the way the dress flowed at her feet. The skirts seemed to sway in slow motion as she came towards him, although maybe that was because she was walking slowly. The skirt looked much better without the apron as it could be admired for its craftsman ship rather than written off as a simple maid's dress.

She stepped up onto the chest at the end of his bed rather than just walking around to the side, picking up the skirts as she did. Arthur looked at the two layers of the dress.

A thought occurred to him.

"Guinevere..."

"Ye-es?" she responded.

She copied the way he stretched the syllables of her name with the 'yes'.

He tilted his head. "Don't you wear a chemise under that dress?"

Gwen bit her bottom lip.

"Or any underwear... at all?" he finished, clearing his throat.

"Well," she said with a coy smile. "I'm not wearing a chemise."

She reached back to undo the small buttons of her dress. They were too small for Arthur to tolerate opening. He would likely rip a few buttons off and Gwen didn't fancy having to sew them back on.

"See for yourself."

Gwen sank down onto her knees in front of him. Arthur carefully reached to feel beneath the fastening of her dress. Her skin felt so hot beneath his hands. She shivered as his cool palm slowly stroked down her back.

He kissed her as he slowly worked the material off her shoulders. She looped her arms around his already bear shoulders. As they deepened their kiss and lay back they felt content once again. Gwen stopped the kiss briefly to smile at him, taking in pleasantly the gentle way he rubbed strands of her hair between his fingers and carefully dabbed them against her skin.

Arthur sighed.

He had great appreciation for the lavender dress, but even greater appreciation for what lay underneath.